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Sav Food? "Chocolate MIllipedes"

Discussion in 'Monitors' started by Dragoness, Jul 17, 2010.

  1. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    Went to a reptile show today. Because I want to own a Sav in the future, I have been getting colonies of feeder bugs going. There was a vendor there selling "chocolate millipedes" for $1.50 each, so I bought ten, hoping to get them to breed, and have another food source that is somewhat 'natural' to a Sav.

    A quick google search turns up results for 'African chocolate millipedes', but they don't look quite like mine. I cannot get a latin name. My dilemma is knowing whether or not these can be fed out - I do not know where they are from, anything about them, how big they get, etc. Anyone have any clues?

    I'll try to post some pics
  2. mld

    mld Subscribed User Premium Member

  3. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    I found one site that suggested they might be Ophistreptus guineensis, but mine look nothing like that particular species.

    These are mine (apparently, when they packed up my ten, they gave me an extra - there were 11 when I counted them.)

    I can upload the pictures larger if need be.

    Attached Files:

  4. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Hi Jen, I`m not familiar with millipedes, but I do know they feed on them a great deal in the wild, (I assume at least some may secrete a toxic? fluid) without ill effects, but not suggesting you do that, unless you can find out the specific details.
  5. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    Most (if not all) millipedes secrete a fluid that tastes bad and stains skin, but doesn't actually do anything harmful. A few species can secrete hydrogen cyanide - which can kill animals (including people) if concentrated enough, and in an enclosed space. I know one of the species that does the hydrogen cyanide, and it look nothing like the ones I have. That's no guarantee mine don't. That's why I'm trying to do some research. I'm hoping that if I stick with African species, there is a better chance of me getting "the right kinds" of millipedes.

    I know Savs eat a lot of millipedes - didn't the Bennet book say about 49% of their diet consisted of millipedes?

    I know Harpaphe haydeniana and Pachydesmus crassicutis among others, secrete hydrogen cyanide. Both are very distinct (and similar looking) species found in North America.

    Since most other secretions are generally harmless (irritating, but unlikely to cause damage) I was wondering if anyone had seen any research about Millipede defenses and Savannah Monitors. Many of the secretions are extremely bitter and slightly toxic. Is it possible that Savs developed some type of immunity to the poisons? Has anyone seen any research about this?

    I know many kingsnakes develop 'immunity' to the venom of snakes in their region. Perhaps Savs have done something similar?

    This is from the WAZA webpage (
    is there any verification for this?
  6. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Yes, a good percentage of their diet consists of millipedes.
    When I first saw your post I honestly thought it really was about chocolate covered insects, because they DO sell those, although I have yet to try them....... (I keep putting it off)...
  7. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    I'm not 100% sure the species in question is even African. The only African species I currently have is the giant millipede.
  8. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    I thought you were trying to breed the ones you have partly as food for the future monitor.
    I`ll see if Daniel Bennett can give me some info on millipedes, he travels all over the world studying varanids, (and he would know about their prey), it may take a day or two, I`ll let you know.
  9. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    I am raising my African Giants (they are babies) to breed as a supplemental food source. Right now, they sell for US$50. I might sell a few too. It will be a few years - it takes them a while to get full size, and start breeding. I'm hoping that of my 4 African Giants, I do have both genders represented. If growth is anything to go by, I may have an ideal ratio of one 1.3. Just a hunch though.

    It looks like the Polydesmida order of millipedes is the group that primarily produces hydrogen cyanide. I could be wrong. I do not have any millipedes from that order.

    The two known species I have are:
    Archispirostreptus gigas
    Narceus gordanus
  10. october

    october Active Member

    yep! I'm absolutely positif that you have both genders represented ;)

    The World of Snails - Giant African Snails
    that link may help you in your project. Good luck!
  11. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    I think you are mistaken, Dragoness keeps African giant millipedes, NOT giant snails! ;)
  12. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    African land snails are illegal in the US.
  13. october

    october Active Member

    haha, sorry about that :">
  14. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    That`s o.k, when I first saw the post I really thought Dragoness was taking about chocolate covered insects!
  15. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Jen, Daniel Bennett says ONLY to feed the African giant millipedes, they`re the only type he`s found in the study he did on V.exanthematicus, even though they may tolerate the secretions from other types it doesn`t mean it`s good for them, he thinks Cisse may have seen them eat others but he`s away just now so can`t check. Daniel wants to know if/when you get the monitor, can you get some pics/video of it eating the giant Millipede?
  16. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    With any luck, my African giants will breed. It will be a while - they are just babies. I think i read it can take them up to 3 years to reach maturity.
  17. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    I forgot to mention, Daniel said he`d be interested to know if they prefer eating the millipedes to rodents and other insects, he believes the reason they go for them is that they are not preyed on by many other animals, so obviously it`s a relatively abundant source of food for them. It would be nice if you could take part in a small study to determine which prey type they prefer when other items are available.
  18. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    It'll be a while (years) but I'll most assuredly keep records when I can. Perhaps a Millipede's slow movement makes it an easy target?
  19. Og_

    Og_ Elite Member

    My thought on the "Chocolate" ones is this, It's a sales gimmick! All invertebrates are born "White"! As they mature, they get darker like chocolate! They even turn black!

    I'm sure if someone wished to go to the trouble of all the marketing and advertising, There would be a "Licorice"(Liquorice) millipede for someone to sell!
  20. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    When Daniel gets back home I can remind him to check if Cisse mentions other types that were preyed on. I found a couple of websites that mention several orders of millipedes that apparently do NOT secrete any toxic substances, so potentially safe, there`s also at least one fairly recent book on the millipedes of the U.S.A, I think your local library could do a search for the book if they don`t stock it? It`s not only the slow movements that make them attractive prey, they are also a substantial size when full grown!

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